A motorist has been fined almost £1,000 and hit with five penalty points after becoming the first person in the UK to be convicted in court of hogging the middle lane of a motorway.
The driver, who was behind the wheel of a Citroen Berlingo van, was stopped by police in West Yorkshire, after persistently refusing to move out of the central lane of the busy M62.
Traffic police said six drivers were forced to brake and swerve to overtake the vehicle, which was travelling along the eastbound carriageway near Huddersfield on August 25 last year.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the driver had numerous opportunities to move into the inside lane but failed to do so.
Instead he was said to have driven in an “inconsiderate manner” for several miles, causing inconvenience to other road users.
The driver failed to turn up to court and was fined £500 in his absence and ordered to pay £400 in costs with a £40 victim surcharge.
He was also hit with five penalty points on his licence, sending out a strong message to other road users who flout the law.
It is thought to be the first time a motorist has been convicted in court of a lane hogging offence since the law was changed in 2013.
The Government introduced on the spot fines of £100 in an effort to deter drivers from sitting in the middle lane when there was an opportunity to pull into the left hand carriageway.
Researchers claim the problem results in a third of motorway capacity being wasted, causing congestion and traffic delays.
PC Nigel Fawcett-Jones from the Road Policing Unit of West Yorkshire police said lane hogging was dangerous and caused congestion and inconvenience to other road users.
He said: “It reduces the capacity of roads and motorways, and can lead to dangerous situations where other drivers 'tailgate' the vehicle in front to try and get the lane hogger to move over.
“Members of the public regularly tell the Road Policing Unit that lane hogging and tailgating are real problems on our roads and this conviction shows that the police and the courts understand the public's concerns and take this offence seriously.”
Figures obtained last year suggested that despite the introduction of the fines, very few drivers were being caught, with cuts in the number of traffic police being blamed for the failure to enforce the rules.
A spokesman for the AA said motorists generally would welcome news that a motorist had been convicted in court for the offence.
He said: “Drivers will be saying Hallelujah that finally someone has been prosecuted because lane hogging causes a huge amount of frustration. This also sends a message out to drivers who think they can get away with it that the police are clamping down.”